“Hello… hello… who is this? This is my phone, which I lost in the taxi. Who is this?”
“Yes, you are absolutely right. This is your phone, which I found in the taxi after you had got down. I have your phone safely with me. So don’t worry.”
“Thank god! I was getting so worried when I found it switched off the first time I called. I was sure that I won’t get my phone back. So, when and where do I meet you?”
There was a soft laugh on the other side. “Not so soon.”
I was shocked with the sudden change in tone. I knew where it was leading to. After all, I would be a fool to expect anyone to return a brand new One Touch Net Phone without any consideration.
“How much money do you want to return my phone?”
There was a deafening silence for a few seconds, which seemed like long hours. Has he hung up? “Hello, you there?”
“You have a knack for photography, it seems. Moreover, the camera on your phone is quite nice.”
My heart almost stopped beating. So he has seen them!
Today, may be a good day to ask for the leave, thought Shilpa. The Boss seemed to be in a good mood and she really needed the leave for a week starting from next Monday.
But all the calculative measures went for a toss the moment she mentioned the word ‘leave’. The Boss looked as if she had mentioned the more dangerous word “increment” or “bonus”.
“Next Monday? What date is it? Hmm… 11th October… When is this project coming to an end?”
Shilpa replied eagerly, “Sir, we are giving the report on Thursday. So, by Friday, we should be wrapping everything up.”
She wondered what was that look that the Boss gave her. Was she really going to be successful in getting a leave this time?
“Sir, I really need a week off from Monday. I shall work overtime, if required for the next one or two weeks to make up for the lost time.”
“We shall see later. Now, please go back to work and show me at least the preliminary reports by afternoon.”
Shilpa could not help but sigh.
“Hello, Hero, were you sleeping?”
The voice on the other side of the phone brought me to reality with a start. Where the hell did he find my second number?
“What are you talking of? And why are you calling at this time of the night?”
“Arre, Hero, your phone book gave me your second number. So I thought of giving you a call myself. Since I removed your sim card, you would have never found me again. But how could I let you go? After all, I have to return your smart phone one day.”
One day?! What does he mean? I still haven’t figured out what he wanted.
The voice continued. “Your phone has been providing me entertainment throughout day and night. Its a good phone, must say. I have been playing the games and have beaten all your highest scores. But the most interesting part of your phone is your album. They are a treasure house.”
Even with the chill induced by the air conditioner in the room, I felt a trickle of sweat go down my face.
“So, who are they? I find at least 10 different of them. And yes, I must admit that you have good taste.” He laughed that slow, mad laugh of his again.
“What’s the price?” I blurted out.
“Why are you worried, Hero? Are you married? with kids? with a respectable name? Why?”
I tried to keep my shaking voice under control. “I don’t know what are you talking of. I just want my phone back and I am asking the price for it.”
He chuckled. “But I also want a price for the photos stored in your phone. I don’t think you would like it if they suddenly find their way into the internet.”
I said, “How does it matter to me? They are not my photos anyways. I don’t even know the names of all of them.”
“So, they are women you don’t know? and yet, they have posed intimately in front of you? And let you photograph them? What sort of a pervert are you, Hero?,” he sounded delirious. “Just to refresh your memory before you wash your hands off the photographs, there are at least three photographs where you appear in equally embarrassing lack of clothing.”
I jumped out of my bed. This can’t be happening to me. I have a company of my own; a family of wife and son; name; honour; wealth everything. I am a successful man. This creep of a man can’t threaten me, just because he had chanced upon the only vice of mine. This one weakness of flesh can’t cost me so much!
“I will give you whatever you want in exchange of the phone along with the photographs. Tell me how much and where.”
“Very good. Bring 10 lakhs of rupees, all in 1000 rupees notes in a black bag and leave it in the common trash can of your office tomorrow after office. Remember to cover the bag with actual trash, preferably papers and old files. You shall find your phone in the same trash can the next morning, covered in a yellow plastic sheet.”
Shilpa caught her Boss in a straight forward stare. So, what others say about him is actually true!
“Shilpa, treat this as a kind gesture from my side, for all the assistance rendered by you in completing this assignment on time. Its just a dinner at the Resort and nothing else.”
“Sir, I was just thinking that its so far away from the city and that I might get late in returning home. I am thankful to you for the offer, but can we go somewhere near, please?” Shilpa knew she was transgressing her limits but she simply could not let the Boss have his way with her at least.
“C’mon, Shilpa. Its a favourite spot of mine. Moreover, don’t worry about being late. Its such a wonderful place that you may not want to return at all.”
Before Shilpa left the chamber, the Boss called out, “Just to inform you, your leave for a week from Monday has been sanctioned.”
“Your Boss is a real creep. Look at these photographs he had stored in his phone. How can you work for such a man?”
Shilpa looked at her husband. “I have just heard rumours before. But when he asked me to go to the Resort with him, I knew those stories are true. I need the money, Ranjan; for both of us.”
Ranjan gave her a sad smile, “I have totally ruined your life, isn’t it? That one accident which left me handicapped have crippled our lives in so many ways. I cannot believe you actually thought you could get away untouched. Why did you agree to go?”
Shilpa cried, “Believe me, I thought I could manage throughout the dinner without him getting intimate with me. I really need the job, Ranjan; and I also need to take you to Vellore as soon as possible and had also applied for a leave.”
Ranjan stroked his wife’s head. “You were a fool, dear. You were lucky that you managed to get down from the taxi, before he could go any further. But this phone of his, which you accidentally took away in the scuffle, has come as a boon in our lives.”
“Aren’t we doing a crime by blackmailing him?”
Ranjan spat with disgust. “Crime? This man is a pervert, taking advantage of women and storing their intimate photos in his latest mobile phone. He is a creepy old bastard, who needs to be shown his place. Had he not tried his dirty tricks with you, I may have never even thought of doing any such thing. But he needs to be taught a lesson. After tonight’s episode, I am sure you will not work for him any more and hence we require this money to carry on with our lives.”
Shilpa snuggled close to Ranjan. “I want to delete those photographs before we return the phone to him.”
Ranjan took her in his arms. “Of course, darling, we shall.”
This post is in response to the “Share Life Blogger Contest” by Indiblogger in association with Tata DOCOMO OneTouch Net Phone. It is somewhat inspired by real-life stories where women find themselves being clicked without their permission, which later find their way into pornographic websites after being morphed. It is also inspired by the numerous incidents of intimate photographs of couples being leaked by the irate partner after a breakup. I strongly urge all to use their smart gadgets responsibly, with due permission and not breaching any one’s privacy.